Tuesday, April 28, 2015

FUZZ WAHD™

This is the Fuzz Wahd ™. It's a guitar pedal I made and it's my first creation from conception to the physical box. I love the sound of the Fuzz Face and I wanted it to be a little louder and with more gain to be used as a lead pedal for solos. I also wanted the tone to be able to cut through so I combined all of that with a wah-wah like filter. All this makes a cocked wah sound (like a wah-wah pedal set in one position) with Fuzz Face like tones that's boosted. It's juicy like a big wad of bubble gum. The fuzz itself reminds me of Jimi Hendrix sound from the Isle Of Wight show (listen to Red House from minutes 6-8). I LOOOVE that. The cocked wah tones are like that of Mick Ronson on songs like The Man Who Sold The World and Ziggy Stardust. Super glam rock. (Ronson, by the way used a Tone Bender with wah-wah)

It was actually a DIY Premier Guitar Magazine article that got me off in the right direction in building something like this from scratch. I've been building pedals from kits for a few years now but wanted to try to create one my self and learn more about that process.  So with research I combined three circuits to pull this off. I ordered the parts and bought what's called a breadboard to attach them on to for testing circuits. I drew out a detailed schematic and tried to make it all work on the board. A major challenge. This took me quite a while.

I built each circuit separately and adjusted and swapped out components that I felt made it better and the way I liked it with my amp (Marshall 50W JCM 800). After that I hooked them all together in the right combination. In many instances Fuzz Faces and wah-wahs don't play nicely together. In this pedal they do. When I first got signal I was so amazed and happy with my accomplishment!! It sounded so killer! Now I knew how Zachary Vex must have felt when he built his first fuzz.

Getting them onto the breadboard was one thing, getting them off the board and onto something that will fit into an enclosure is another. I had it sounding so good I didn't want to have to take the components off of there. Another hurdle of a challenge. I got a vero board to do this. When you by guitar pedal kits it comes with a PCB board that has everything laid out for you like a map and you just put your components on and solder it up. Here with something like the vero board, you have to make your own map.
Again, my first experience with this thing. I read about how to do it and then drew out a vero board layout. For reference, I also drew out and took pictures of what my bread board looked like. I spent a lot of time checking and checking and checking my layout maps and comparing it to my bread board set up. When I thought I had it right, I added the components and soldered them on.

I ordered an enclosure and a page of decal paper. I added titles to the knobs and added someone blowing a bubble gum bubble to the top of it. Brushed it with Mod Podge. The next step was to put the populated board inside of it and wire it up. Another big challenge. Lots of research on this. Apparently there are many ways to wire up a fuzzbox. I wired it up to my best ability. The LED didn't work. I had to figure that out. Then I got signal and was super happy with that but the pedal didn't work how it should. There was fuzz but I was getting a constant tone coming through and none of the knobs worked. This took me weeks to figure out. Checking my work over and over and just staring at that thing. I got really frustrated at this point. I knew that I had a great sounding circuit but this was just not working. Taking the board out of the box and testing each section of the circuit still baffled me. I came pretty close to just walking this thing downstairs, laying it on the driveway and backing over it with my van. After that I would put it in drive and run it over a second time. Luckily it didn't come to that. I think I was just in a good state of mind when I was looking at it one day, checking my work and I found that I needed to drill an extra hole in the vero board to block a connection. Could that be it??


I took the whole board and tested it on the breadboard and.....IT WORKED!!!!!! Oh man I was so happy and thrilled. Wow, I did it!!! I wired it back up and plugged it in. Boy did I crank my amp for that. Loved it. This thing rocks. Have a listen.
What a cool project. Very proud of myself. Now lets see if I can duplicate it. You might want one.


Inquire at LittleMBD@gmail.com.

Special thanks to ZVEX for the inspiration. Chase Bliss' Joel Korte for the education and KJ Audio's Kris Johnson for the confidence. One small leap for a little man. One giant leap for mankind.
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